April 19, 2013
English-language readers might have at long last become acquainted with one of the most-lauded voices in French literature last year when Knopf published Marie NDiaye’s book Three Strong Women to very strong reviews (“NDiaye is a hypnotic storyteller with an unflinching understanding of the rock-bottom reality of most people’s lives,” said The New York Times). The fact that she was also just shortlisted for the International Booker Prize (alongside such giants as Marilynne Robinson and Lydia Davis) probably also brought her a few more well-deserved readers.
Three Strong Women is a difficult-to-classify book, which takes the form of three thematically linked long stories (or possibly novellas), shows NDiaye’s rare ability to take time-worn forms and make them her own. That capacity is further on display in All My Friends, which will be published by Two Lines Press in on May 21 of this year. Instead of three tales this volume includes five, all of which sit somewhere between novella and story, or story and parable. What remains the same are NDiaye’s labyrinthine sentences, her strange but all-too-human characters, and her plotlines that hold up to (or maybe require) multiple reads.